John Carter [Blu-Ray]

John Carter is extremely action-oriented, and audiences be wowed by shots of bodies slinging and swords swinging, if that is their thing. The problem is with the momentum of the storytelling, which dithers around and about, always tangoing with making a point, but never quite getting there.

This Means War [Blu-Ray]

This Means War is a shoddy epic romance adventure missing many of the main components that made Charlie’s Angels and some of McG’s better directorial efforts oodles of fun. A Tom Hardy/Chris Pine endeavor should have been a no brainer, but somehow this flick misses the mark on all counts: romance, comedy, and action.

Jeff, Who Lives At Home [Blu-Ray]

Like Cyrus, the Duplass brothers’ newest project, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, is an open and honest look at a small family unit. Unlike some of the brothers’ other projects, Jeff, Who Lives at Home only looks at one day in the life of family members Jeff, Sharon, and Pat. Despite having only a 24-hour window into the lives of the family, we still get to see their shortcomings and greatest triumphs, all wrapped into an 83-minute movie that ends with a twist.

Perfect Sense [Blu-Ray]

The notion of two people clinging through hardship together is a theme we’ve seen before, but in Perfect Sense it is overly sentimental, driven by Susan’s narration of the event and its maudlin declaration that love must triumph, even in times of turmoil.

The Adventures Of Tintin [Blu-Ray]

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn is a very busy movie. Its picture is busy, its action is zippy, and the whole thing plays out so quickly that many gratifying but quick moments could easily be missed on a first viewing. With a second viewing, many of these sly comments and candid characterizations color the screen and prove The Adventures of Tintin is truly more than just a basic action piece, although the action, too, is thrilling.

Young Adult [Blu-Ray]

When we first meet protagonist Mavis Gary, she is hung over and unwashed. She’s also a poor pet owner and a young adult novelist whose series is about to end. With no new job prospects and no relationships to keep her going, it would be no surprise if this were rock bottom, but for Mavis, this is only the beginning.

Jack and Jill [Blu-Ray]

Jack and Jill’s issues begin with the miscasting of Katie Holmes, continue through 91 minutes of arduous cross-dressing appearances and pointless, star-powered cameos, and end without having produced anything remotely close to a storyline.

Hugo [Blu-Ray]

Like Selznick’s book, which tells its story mostly through pictures and not words, Scorsese’s film tells much of its story through images, through quiet looks shared between characters, through action moving the story forward, and through a romantic display of some of the greatest moments in the history of film.

50/50 [Blu-Ray]

Adam is a tedious and careful worker, and if this were a movie about following a goal or a passion, we wouldn’t hold it against him. However, if we know anything about 50/50 going in, we know it is a movie about cancer. There is no time for this tediousness, because 50/50 is not about pursuing a goal, it is what happens when a young person’s life is put on hold in response to a dangerous and potentially fatal disease.

In Time [Blu-Ray]

In Time is a sci-fi flick lacking in most of the details and technologies that normally make science fiction its own brand of film. It’s also a thinly veiled commentary on the dangers and atrocities of capitalism, and a thumbs-up to Robin Hood justice, as long as that justice comes with a sidekick in a short skirt and a pair of heels.

Fright Night [3D Blu-Ray]

Fright Night is a remake of a 1985 movie of the same name featuring Chris Sarandon. If you are a huge fan of the very campy '80s-ness of the first film, the sleek, well-produced new movie may not resonate with you. For everyone else, Fright Night should come across as a well-produced, well-acted, very much overlooked movie in 2011.

Straw Dogs

Straw Dogs, the 2011 remake by Rod Lurie of a 1971 Sam Peckinpah film, opens with a bunch of beautiful shots of a landscape somewhere in the hot, hot Mississippi summer. That’s the first indication that Lurie is trying to differentiate his film from Peckinpah’s, a film set in England with a better cast that was a bigger deal for its violent detail when it was made.

Dead Poets Society [Blu-Ray]

When the boys make their way back from the cave the one last time, holding lanterns to light their way home, it suddenly strikes me: the Dead Poets Society is about finding your own path. Not necessarily traipsing down a new path or making some great changes to the state of humanity. We won’t all be doctors or actors or writers of great achievement, but we will all have to find our places in the big, brave world. If we are lucky, we have learned from our own Mr. Keatings.

Friends with Benefits [Blu-Ray]

Friends with Benefits is culturally up-to-date, it’s reference-y, it has two attractive adults engaging in unconventional romantic behaviors. It’s also a fairly large-budget romantic comedy, and generally the former and latter don’t meld together into a solid film with a satisfying conclusion. Friends with Benefits manages to balance some challenging discourse with a conclusion that never deviates too far from the defined romantic comedy format. In short, this works, even if it shouldn’t.

Our Idiot Brother [Blu-Ray]

Our Idiot Brother may be an ensemble cast, but its music is suited for only one character: Paul Rudd’s Ned. Relying heavily on Eric D. Johnson and Willie Nelson, the pleasant afternoon tunes are great for a character that continually hopes for the best and looks on the positive side of things, but less fitting for the rest of the characters, whose embittered attitudes have often caused them to follow one selfish whim after another.

Water For Elephants [Blu-Ray]

For all of its similarities to Sara Gruen’s book, Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants does not play out like an exact replica. As a movie, Water for Elephants plays like a lopsided piece of music, hitting the right notes in some clutch moments, in the design, color, and tone. In others, the characters are stale, and the dialogue never moves beyond the expected. Without an even keel, it’s hard to gain our footing and truly root ourselves into the film.

The Tree Of Life [Blu-Ray]

There are a lot of wonderful themes threaded throughout Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. Like James Agee’s The African Queen script and others before it, Malick’s screenplay is flooded with description, translating into a telling of creation running through multiple storylines and quick cut-to shots. The images are meant to be an intensive foray into a world bigger than the entangled emotions of humans: of joy and love, hate and denial, and hope.

Bad Teacher [Blu-Ray]

Cameron Diaz has made a career out of playing versatile-but-always-hot characters decently well. The same holds true of Bad Teacher, a film where Diaz plays hot, intelligent, and selfish in equal measure. Her character, Elizabeth, is like crazying down her character in Vanilla Sky and coupling it with her portrayal of Mary in the iconic Farrelly brothers film, sans the smile.

Breakfast At Tiffany's 50th Anniversary [Blu-Ray]

Some would argue Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a character study of a complicated woman. Some would argue Breakfast at Tiffany’s has become iconic because Hepburn, a self-proclaimed introvert, was able to play an extrovert to great appeal. One thing is certain: Holly Golightly is no more or less charming when converted onto Blu-Ray, although she is even more colorful.

Prom [Blu-Ray]

Teen melodrama might not be the easiest starting point, and an ensemble cast is certainly not the easiest. Even so, Prom has none of the characters, side plots, or other quirks that could possibly endear a teen event movie to a wide audience. It does have all of the clichés, and a couple of really nicely designed prom dresses (Nova’s and Simone’s were made just for the film). If we were looking for the familiar, Prom might be the perfect afternoon respite.

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